This aptly-titled debut release likely falls outside of a strict avant-garde categorization, but as creative genre-busting music goes, it is a notable effort. To put together Passport, Rahbany took three years and engaged over 180 collaborators from 12 countries. The resulting 60 minutes resembles, at times, jazz, classical, a musical, modern Arabic tunes, and probably a few other things.
For example, Zook the Power Station is an accordion and piano driven romp through complex lines and rhythms, while Programmusik Babel is an 11-minute amalgam of jazz and funk with interludes of blowouts and structured weirdness. Perhaps the most compelling and idiosyncratic track on the album is Mouwachahat, with Middle-Eastern melodies and choral singing, but a piano, bass, and drum backing. The singing, when present, is not in English and very well done.
Clearly, Rahbany’s influences are far-reaching, as is this recording. If you are a fan of soundtracks or musicals, you could do worse than give Rahbany a listen. If you are more into the left-of-center, keep in mind that Passport might be what would have happened if Rogers and Hammerstein collaborated with Christian Vander in Lebanon. Thumbs up.